The Family Business
K. G. Corfield Ltd was
in every sense a family business. Sir Kenneth, Betty, and brother
John were soon joined by their other brother Stan, who looked after
production. They were also joined by their father, Mr. Stanley Corfield,
who came out of retirement to become the credit controller. They
looked after their employees extremely well; everyone was treated as
an individual. This led to a well-motivated and enthusiastic team,
many of whom felt like family members. They were given every
opportunity and assistance to improve their skills, as skilled labour
was always in short supply.
In 1954 the Maharajah
of Mysore placed a large order for Periflex cameras. This was featured
in the October 22nd edition of the Wolverhampton Chronicle under the
heading "Corfield Bulletin". A whole page was devoted to the
history of the company, and several of the employees were
Hans Lehmann, who by
now had joined the company, was in
charge of the camera assembly room, and told how he had not thought that he
would be able to get back into the trade after the war. He had
originally learned how to make optical instruments such as
rangefinders, but the war intervened. During the war he was a
Luftwaffe pilot and then a prisoner of war in the United States. He
had since worked on a farm and been a machine operator.
Mr. John Roberts did
all of the company's advertising, designing and printing. He had been a
pupil at the Wolverhampton Art College where he excelled in commercial
design. His full page adverts appeared fortnightly in the Amateur
Photographer. He described the design process as follows: "Basic
thing is to get down, even roughly, the important article for the
leaflet. The design, the ornamentation will come afterwards".
Walsall born Gerald
Whitton was the company's toolmaker. Like Sir Kenneth he used to work
for Fischer Bearings. He founded the machine shop and developed all of
the company's machine tools. He described how it was vital to have the
correct tools for each of the 175 parts in the camera.
The firm's two original
employees were also interviewed. Mrs. Florence Abbiss who was the
firm's packer described how she daily sent parcels of cameras off to
Hong Kong. She was responsible for all of the parcels, packages and
crates that left Corfields for the home market and abroad. Mr. Reg
Simmons, a skilled mechanic, was in charge of production in the
assembly shop. He described his job as seeing that the girls correctly
assembled the various components, and how he personally carried out any
repairs to equipment that was returned from dealers.
Sir Kenneth mentioned
that his wish was to make photography more universal and help this
country become what is known as a photographic nation, like Germany or
the United States. He wanted his camera to be used by amateurs as well
as professionals and would like to make the business grow. He summed
up his hopes as follows: "At its present rate of growth we should
become one of the leading firms in the country during the next ten
years. Demand for our products is terrific. We have a staff who
believe and share our enthusiasm in the future of the firm".
|This advert from 1956 shows the variety of goods
that Corfields sold. Only the Periflex camera at the top is
their own product.
They were distributors for a range of photographic
equipment including Exacta Cameras, Stag timers, "Shirley
Wellard" re-loadable 35mm film cassettes, Perilux
enlargers and Omnica carrying cases.
to the beginning